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INTERVIEW: American Wolves

American Wolves is a four-piece band based out of Philadelphia, PA. The band consists of Rod Pires (vocals / guitar), Nikki Zell (guitar), Rob Lundy (bass), and Tyler Blinn (drums). Just a few weeks ago, they released their debut single and video, “Part of Me” and are about to embark on a tour with Escape the Fate and Get Scared.

Music Existence had the pleasure of chatting with them during their visit in New York City. Not only do they have awesome music but they are the loveliest humans.

For more information on American Wolves, check out their links: Website | iTunes | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

Music Existence: Your story of how you became a band is fascinating. How did each of you meet and form the band? Can you tell us more about how American Wolves came to be?

Rob: Rod and I had been in bands previous to American Wolves. So we’ve been making music for about four years, we used to play heavy music. The band we were previously in came to an end, so we decided to get out of that scene, do something that’s more us, and what we wanted to do in the first place. So, American Wolves started with Rod and I, we were the two founding members. We recorded the single, “Part of Me”, and then our manager had found Tyler and Nikki through Youtube, Facebook, and things of that nature. Tyler has a lot of drum covers, some up to a million views. Nikki plays out of Philadelphia and all over the place. She does covers, originals, playing festivals, and runs her own radio show. So Tyler and Nikki had already been doing their own thing. Once our manager found them, they joined. And ever since then we just clicked. At first, it was a struggle because Tyler was in Arizona then South Carolina, Nikki was in Pennsylvania, and Rod and I were living together in Rhode Island so it felt a bit disjointed. Rod and I would be on the same page but maybe Tyler wasn’t or Nikki wasn’t. But now that we have started to operate out of Philly, we are definitely going full speed ahead.

Tyler: It seems and it was manufactured from the beginning. Not on Rod and Rob’s end because they were just coming out of doing other music stuff and they were just starting something new. It wasn’t quite fully there yet but with the help of Jordan, our manager, it all came together. We hadn’t met or really talked. I was committed to being a part of the band before I had even spoken to Rod or Rob. I just showed up to Rhode Island. And we finally met.

Rob: When I first picked him up from the airport, that was really the first time we ever talked.

Tyler: He was like, “I thought your name was Chris!” It was all very manufactured so we put alot into becoming close because you can’t be a good band without solid chemistry and being friends. We are intentional with spending a lot of time together, being open, communicating, working through things, supporting each other in order to bring that genuine aspect to the band.

Rob: To add on to what you said, it was almost funny though the first time we ever got together and pick up our instruments because it just clicked. Everyone already knew the songs individually so we ran “Part of Me” when we first played together and there were no mistakes, nothing. It all clicked and the missing pieces to the puzzle came perfectly.

Tyler: We kind of all smiled at each other like this is cool, we haven’t really even met each other and things are going so well.

Rob: For myself and Rod, getting the other people in the band was something that was proving to be a challenge because as we had experienced in previous bands; people flake out, people make bad decisions, being dishonest or whatever. We were the two guys standing after the countless amount of people we had been with before American Wolves. So to bring these two outsiders at the time, Nikki and Tyler, into the mix it was definitely “oh god I hope these are the right people”. In the end, I could just tell from the moment Tyler flew across the country to try out for the band, that he was really in it. And same with Nikki, she drove eight hours to do this thing. I could just tell these two were serious but laidback and no egos.

Tyler: Since the beginning, it’s all been very sacrificial. Everyone throw everything they had or were entitled to in order to be all in. Like “if you need me to be there, you need me to do this, you need me to commit to everything I am to something that has no guarantee of coming up, ok.” It’ a complete trust fall. I have no idea who these people are, what the band will be like, and how things will turn out but we’ll all be working on it [music] so it’s worth the risk. It’s been nothing but rewarding. And you kind of know when the right time is to jump in, definitely worth it.

Nikki: It wasn’t working for us on our own, it’s like we needed each other.

Music Existence: As far as the music goes, how’s the songwriting process and creating music collaboratively go about?

Rob: For our new material, it’s a whole band effort. We aren’t one of those bands that is like “you play drums so you just do drums”. Everyone puts in their own influences on every aspect of the music. As far as the older songs ago, it’s just myself and Rod writing them. We had the songs before we had our band name actually. We knew we had this project and where we were taking it but in those early stages we had no idea what our name would be. I remember shooting names back and forth. It’s really tough to come up with a band name. They never seem to stick, I remember once being “The New Vintage” at one point. And I remember thinking, “Should we make it a play off of our old band?” There were so many directions we could go and the way we ended up settling on American Wolves was that we were brainstorming and once American Wolves was said, it felt right. Everything in this band is a group effort like not just songwriting but whether it’s business, social media, or driving, everything is a group effort.

Tyler: We try to take a different approach to “being in a band” thing then what’s expected or been done before. Rod pretty much recorded everything himself on the songs and Rob did his bass and his singing but Rod did everything else which is super impressive and at the time it was a need, it had to get done. We don’t want anyone else involved with it, we just want it to be our thing. They did what they had to do. And now that we are complete as a band, we do our own parts in the band but we all still do different stuff as well. Like, we all sing now. It’s all about no limitations and just supporting each other and trying to reach our full potential.

Rob: We don’t want to put ourselves in a box.

Tyler: Exactly.

Rob: We’re a band where everyone fills in a unique role and purpose. I like to think we express ourselves in a unique way. You can see many bands today where each person in the band are just cardboard copies of each other. Or they got the slicked black hair or whatever is cool nowadays. We’re just ourselves. That’s how it should be and it’s been like that, we’re just being ourselves. That’s what American Wolves is, authentically being us and not playing a role or trying to be larger than life.

Music Existence: They are a lot of bands that have a trademark aesthetic they want to present themselves in or try to achieve whether it’d be in their image, style, music videos, photography, social media, etc. Is an aesthetic significant to American Wolves?

Rob: It is but we don’t beat you over the head with it. If you notice, you play fender guitars and orange amps. Rod and I have always loved fenders specifically offset fender guitars and I really like the pastel colors. I rock the turquoise beige bass and he’s got the pink guitar. We got tons of them, we basically collect fenders. We probably have fourteen, fifteen guitars just sitting at our house; all green, pink, and various colors. I guess you can say we have an aesthetic with our instruments. We’re not trying to go out there and convince people that we’re misfits or glam rockers. We’ve real people and we fit the music we make because it’s who we are.

Rod: Here’s the thing about our aesthetic, I think ultimately to touch back on what they were saying, at the end of the day, we are ourselves. In this band, we are able to just be ourselves to our full potential. In being ourselves, we come across in a certain aesthetic, a certain feel. The aesthetic of the band is just us. There’s no need to keep up an aesthetic because we just need to act yourselves to have an aesthetic. I think that there’s no image to keep up with because there is no image.

Rob: It’s about freedom. I do think we all have your own style, we look similar without looking the same.

Tyler: Even like beyond your wardrobe and stuff like that. You started talking about like music videos and stuff. The quality and attention to detail that we do is something that’s consistent. That’s something we appreciate it and do. Go above and beyond at the best it can be and not half-ass something just for the sake of putting content out there because it shows where your hearts at, you know.

Rob: That’s why it took so long for us to debut. The song, “Part of Me”, we recorded March 2015 and it didn’t come until March 2016, we’ve gone through the shredder numerous times. We’ve had ideas, tossed out those ideas, and brought new ideas. From the marketing to the attention to detail to the videos to photos, we are intentional. We don’t just put something out for the sake of putting stuff out there. You only have one impression, one first time delivery into the world of music. I’m very happy with everything we’ve done. Like Jamie, our publicist, getting us on Billboard. We’re very intentional with the path we’re taking and want to take. We put out content when we know it has the greatest chances for it to succeed. Even if that means sitting with our hands for a while. We want our fans to hear our songs in the best and right way.

Tyler: Some people including myself go through life just doing things being caught up in other stuff so your focus isn’t quite there. I think we do a good job of keeping our feet on the ground. We’re always thinking about how we’ll come across in practical terms, you know. We want to be consistent and show that we live and breathe music.

Rob: This band is all that we have and in the best way possible. In this make or break business as you know, if you’re going to go out there, they say you can’t put all your eggs in one basket but you kind of have to, you know. You have to quit your job, you have be tired and still make all the time to get better at what you do. This is something we have fun with but we take so much to heart. Everyone has those records where they put on and think about a certain time in their life and that’s what we want our music to do. We want to have a genuine worldwide, cultural, and impactful connection with everyone. Be a support for our fans because we are human and we’re just being ourselves and expressing our emotions.

A part of being human is about changing, you are always changing. Everyday, you wake up and things have changed, you’ve changed. Therefore the only way to stay truthful to something is to stay truth to yourself. It’s cliche for a reason. That’s ultimately what we do, stay true to ourselves.

Rob: And from a musical standpoint we’re always changing. We’re always evolving in every aspect. We don’t have to stay the same, or write a record twice, we want to experiment and evolve continuously. I love “Part of Me” and I’m happy people are responding to it and really enjoy it but we’re not going to write that single again. The American Wolves people are listening to or have yet to hear is just a preview for what’s to come. When we’re doing something, it’s always what’s going to be next for us.

Music Existence: “Part of Me” showcases a refreshing mix of different genres. Would you associate or categorize yourselves exclusively to one genre? Do you consider your music to be more of an eclectic range of musical genres?

Rod: Absolutely not.

Rob: No.

Rod: If anything, we try best not to. I mean the idea behind this band since the beginning it’s about being yourself and creating platform where we can do that. I always felt like I never belonged anywhere until this band and I think we all share that in common. I think that when we’re creating in the same way we’re living our lives, we can’t put a cap on it. You can’t put yourself in a box. I’d say we’re American Wolves and we’re a band. We make music and it’s not genre specific. You never know when a hit comes from; a chord or a sound you hear in the middle of New York City. You never know when inspiration hits you.

Tyler: We want to be anything to everyone. We love playing music and we want it as a career, it’s what we love doing but I think it’s so much more than that as well. There’s so many people involved than just ourselves. You limit yourself and everyone else by placing a genre. Just be everything that you are to the fullest.

We are not restrictive when it comes to creativity. Our direction can go everywhere. You won’t get Part of Me 2.0 on the next release. I think the fans will be surprised and think from song to song, “Is this the same band?”

But yet sonically it still goes all together.

Rod: At the end of the day, we are not just a band, we’re humans.

Music Existence: As humans, we are three dimensional and complex.

Rod: Exactly, we’re always changing. Being in a band is just our way of expressing ourselves and influencing others. I am human and this is why I’m in this. I play music because I’m trying to figure out why I’m on this earth; the answer or logical explanation I’ve been able to give myself so that I rest my head at night and fall asleep is that I’m suppose to play music and this is how you’re going to heal yourself. Therefore, that’s the path I’ve chosen to take along with the rest of my band members.

Rob: Yeah, I quit college and my job.

Rod: I got kicked out of my house right before we started making our record.

Rob: Now he lives with me.

Rod: I was sleeping in my car for two weeks. And his dad was like, “you can’t do that” His dad invited me and took me in. Blood-related or not, I’ll always continue to pursue my dreams. It might be manufactured but we had an idea and we built a platform to be ourselves.

Tyler: I feel like we’re doing the opposite of everybody nowadays. You get impressions from people that are so fake all the time and put on.

Nicole: Especially here.

There are people who deserve to be on the very top and they’re so talented, hardworking, and humble but they don’t get a lot of recognition because of how over saturated things are.

Rob: It’s politics.

Tyler: Today’s day in age you can’t be this mysterious, larger than life rockstar badass who smokes, drinks, and parties. People want the honesty and connection Rod was talking about. We’re just being good humans and creating music in a band setting to work its way out.

You’re nothing without the people who support you. You’re just not. It doesn’t matter who you are. We work extremely hard and we do what we do but the way we get on a stage is by the people who support us and want to listen to us and care for our music.

The last thing we need is to fill our egos. We know we’re humans, we all have egos. We don’t need to fuel it.

Music Existence:Because we’re running out of time. Let’s move on to tour dates to wrap up our interview. What are you guys looking forward to as you hit the road with Escape the Fate and Get Scared on Monday, April 18th?

It’s really exciting, because it’s our first tour upon releasing our new material, “Part of Me”. Also, it’s our first tour as American Wolves. Personally, I’m just excited to learn and grow. I mean, we’re going to be touring with people who have done this for years and years. Also, the traveling, the new fans, new friends, new relationships and getting to know others. Pretty much the people is what I’m looking most forward to. Oh and warm places!

You can tell the weather has been on our minds lately.

Rob: I’m a Rhode Island boy. I love the cold, I’m so used to it. Honestly, on a personal level, I’m very excited to be sharing the stage and touring with two great bands, especially Escape the Fate. I’ve known about them and listened to their music since I was thirteen years old. As a thirteen year old kid, seeing them break into the scene and following along their journey and now as a twenty two year old going on tour with them is pretty surreal. I wouldn’t say our band is totally similar to them but we totally respect what they do. I’m also excited to road test these new songs and see everyone’s reactions to “Part of Me” live and new material besides the single. Songs we’ve been working on for a year now and it’s awesome to be able to play them for others now. The chance to play our hearts out to people is what I’m most excited about for sure.

Music Existence: Awesome! Thank you guys so much for taking the time to do this interview.

(Rod, Rob, Tyler, Nikki): Thank you!

About Gina Garcia

photo based human in nyc and phoenix. sneaking in my camera everywhere I go.

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